You may not be able to visit L.A.’s best museums right now as they’re all temporarily closed, but you can bring a little piece of them home with you. No, we’re not encouraging art theft: We’re talking about all of the streams, image databases and lecture archives that’ve bubbled up to museums’ homepages. These virtual museums are filling the art-shaped hole in our heart right now. And just like L.A.’s free museums, they won’t cost you a dime.
RECOMMENDED: Virtual tours of museums around the world
Virtual museum tours and exhibitions in L.A.
The Westwood museum’s free programming is unparalleled, and so too is its archive of artist talks, lectures and performances. You’ll find hourlong conversations with artists like Paul McCarthy and Sarah Lucas, lectures on the constitution, profiles on Made in L.A. artists and chats with luminaries like Jane Fonda and Roxane Gay. We particularly love its Q&As from the Contenders, an annual screening series of awards season favorites that feature director and actor talks (think Olivia Wilde, Eddie Murphy, Lulu Wang and Bong Joon-ho).
Whereas you can’t exactly marvel all angles of a sculpture from your phone, photographs transfer particularly well to digital screens—which makes this Century City museum’s online exhibitions a natural fit. The Annenberg Space for Photography has posted the celebrity–cover–filled photo and audio tour for its current exhibition, “Vanity Fair: Hollywood Calling,” as well as for the beautiful animal portraits in its previous “Photo Ark” show.
The Getty’s greatest asset—other than its incredible hilltop location, of course—is its collection. And we don’t just mean the thousands of years of antiquities and Impressionist paintings at the pair of museums: The Getty Research Institute curates over 6,000 years’ worth of books and archival materials, including over 100,000 images (we’re talking everything from medieval manuscripts to Civil War portraits) that you’re free to do whatever you’d like with. The museum has neatly collected its videos, podcasts, publications and exhibition walkthroughs on its site. If you’re really missing the museum, you can also explore the Getty Center on Google Street View.
Forty five seconds. That’s how long you normally have to bathe in the twinkling, reflective abyss of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. But now the Broad is letting you spend as much time with its signature piece as you’d like—virtually, at least. As part of the Broad from Home, you can watch a video of Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room set to a spacey soundtrack. Dubbed Infinite Drone, the series will pair the installation with drone, electronic, ambient and pop music from both local and international musicians. Like the museum itself, there’s of course more than just an infinity room including a series called Interplay: Poetry and Art, in which poets respond to specific pieces in the museum’s collection; and the instructional Family Workshops at Home, a Friday morning step-by-step tutorial for art activities inspired by pieces in the museum.
The Grammy Museum routinely hosts some stellar talks and performances—but there’s a good chance you’ve never been able to scoop up tickets before these intimate events sell out. But now we can all partake thanks to the institution’s Museum at Home site. Every couple of days, you can look forward to conversations with and performances from the likes of Billie Eilish, Greta Van Fleet, Andrea Bocelli, Common, Los Tigres del Norte, Courtney Barnett, Ben Platt and more. Plus, each week the museum is reviving some of its former exhibitions online, including retrospectives on Jenni Rivera, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
Virtual MOCA, the Downtown museum’s online programming, has something different in store each day. Mondays lean educational with virtual tours and workshops and Tuesdays highlight ways we can all give back to our community. On Wednesdays, MOCA resurfaces past exhibitions and bits of history through a future-facing lens. Thursdays are movie nights with throwback selections from MOCAtv and Fridays are for feeling good and viewing art, while Saturday sees Instagram takeovers from artists and Sundays convene a virtual book club.
The Arts District mega-gallery’s programming has gone digital with Dispatches, a series of streaming performances, book suggestions, artist-recommended recipes and free access to the back catalog of Hauser & Wirth’s Ursula Magazine. In the ongoing From a Distance video series, artists around the world provide a peek into their studios. And make sure to check out the gallery’s first online exhibition, “Louise Bourgeois: Works on Paper,” a 60-year survey of French-American sculptor’s ink drawings.
You may not be able to take a selfie in front of Urban Light from home, but you can listen to chamber music performances, take online courses on social justice and Chinese painting, view exhibitions tours and peruse decades’ worth of scans of exhibition catalogs. Our favorite part of LACMA @ Home, though, is its collection of Artists on Art videos, in which local icons like John Baldessari, Betye Saar, Ed Ruscha and Catherine Opie roam the galleries and talk about their favorite works.
Though the Petersen’s exhibitions are slick, its best collection is tucked underneath the Miracle Mile car museum. Its 60,000-square-foot vault houses 250 rare and pristine vehicles. Typically open for in-person tours, you can also get a glimpse inside the vault during daily livestreamed tours; donations, which directly support the museum and its staff, are suggested. If you’re looking for a bit of a throwback, you can tour the museum’s pre-2015-makeover configuration on Google Street View.
With PaleyFest, the Paley Center’s annual screening and Q&A series for TV’s biggest shows, on hold for now, the media institution has launched Paley@Home. Each day, you’ll be able to watch the full, never-before-released video of an old panel (think This is Us, The Walking Dead, Parks and Rec). They’re free to watch, but there’s one catch: Each video will go up on YouTube at 7am, but it’ll only be available until 7am the following morning.